Remembrance Day in Canada marks the anniversary of the official end of the World War I hostilities on November 11, 1918. Here in Canada, November 11 is officially called Remembrance Day, but it is also known as Armistice Day and Poppy Day. Remembrance Day is observed in many countries, particularly members of the Commonwealth, including Australia and New Zealand (where it is also referred to as Armistice Day). In the United States, Veterans Day falls on the same date. In the United Kingdom, the Sunday closest to November 11 is known as Remembrance Sunday.
Remembrance Day is symbolized by the red poppy flower. Artificial poppies are worn in the weeks preceding Remembrance Day and are later placed at war memorials. Red poppies symbolize the memory of those who died in service to our country and as our symbol, comes from a poem written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a Canadian doctor. The poem is called In Flanders Fields, written on on May 3, 1915 and describes the poppies growing in the Flemish graveyards where soldiers were buried.
The official Canadian national ceremonies are held at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, Ontario, according to a strict protocol. A service is held and wreaths are laid by armed services representatives. In May 2000 the remains of a Canadian soldier who died in France in World War I, but was never identified, were laid in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the National War Memorial. Nationally, 2 minutes of silence are observed at 11:00 am.
This year we spent a snowy day at home with the kids, and watched part of the ceremonies on TV, observing the 2 minutes of silence, and then listened to the prayers that were offered while cannons were fired. It was very moving for me. I remembered what my grandfathers had done during the war, and we also remembered the military service that Henry’s side of the family has seen.
I had wanted us to watch some old “war movies” and had picked out a couple of classics. My kids are a little wary of war movies, but they picked the classic movie The Great Escape to watch together since they had seen some of it before, and knew that they would like this one. I was fine with that, as it has always been a favorite of mine, and I used to really enjoy watching it with my family when I was a kid (gotta love those escape movies!). Before the movie, we watched some videos about the Canadian military and a vintage U.S. video about the Canadian military (by The Big Picture). If you are interested, you can find some of the videos we watched on my Canada pinboard here. (Here’s a photo of my son in some of his Dad’s military gear….not wanting his photo taken)
I don’t know why I haven’t thought of this before, but I just decided that in November we will celebrate with poppy seed foods! Quite fitting, as everyone is wearing their red poppies on their coats and the symbol is displayed everywhere. I love poppy seed cake! So we watched our “war”movie while we ate poppy seed cake from my Grandma’s recipe. I’ve tried a few other recipes since, too. (Hmm, maybe should add those to the Canada pinboard…)Here is the recipe for Lemon Poppy Seed Cake that my Grandma used to make. Nowadays I usually do a made-from-scratch version, as I’m not into cake mixes. But it tastes yummy either way! If you want a darker crust on the cake, dust the bundt pan with cocoa instead of flour…. I sprinkled the bundt cake above with poppy seeds after drizzling on the icing (cream cheese icing this time).I know this post is a few weeks late, but better late than never, and as it is still November, there’s still time to watch old war movies and eat poppy seed cake, and remember all the friends and relatives and brave souls who have served in our military, keeping peace across the world.